Remarks by Ms. Allyson T. Clarke
Bachelor's Degree Candidate,
School of Business

Graduates of the Class of 2003, families, friends, deans, faculty and staff, and all honored guests: in song, in heartfelt words, and in prayer, we express the joy we all share on this beautiful occasion.

Commencement marks our initiation in the fullest sense into the fellowship of the university as bearers of her torch and promoters of her spirit.

I did not have a final revelation in the last few weeks as I prepared this speech and navigated my way through the clearance lines to complete the final hurdle to this glorious day. however, three things did touch my heart, that I want to share with you and my classmates. they are: legacy, service, and follow your call.

First the HU legacy.

Your crown has been paid for. The one hundred and thirty-fifth commencement is the fulfillment of our Founder’s dream of educating free blacks. We have all had our unique journey to the Mecca, whether it has been from any of America’s fifty states, Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, Asia, or Europe. We must continue the groundbreaking tradition of excellence exemplified by past graduates. It is imperative that we recognize that our opportunity to contribute is limitless and build on the foundation laid by the pillars of our university family.

•  Names such as former Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder–first African-American governor elected since Reconstruction; Jessye Norman–opera star; Toni Morrison–author and Pulitzer Prize recipient; Dr. Lasalle D. Leffall – world renowned surgeon; former New York Mayor David Dinkins; and I could go on and on naming howard university graduates who have made illustrious contributions to the world, but time does not permit. their work should serve as a supreme inspiration to all.

•  For each one of us has been blessed with god given talents and reinforced with the educational tools that will allow us to succeed. as the groundbreaking management book by Peters and Waterman states we must live a life in search of excellence. that is the howard way!

The second is give back to community and HU.

“Am I my brother’s keeper?” genesis 4:9. Yes, we are. As graduates of Howard University, we must assign meaning to the term keeper, to determine our responsibility to our community. We have the unique advantage of an education, second to none, which we must use to serve America and our global society.

•  As we leave this campus to return to our diverse environments, we must find a vision for our lives that encompasses service, whether it is mentoring a child, feeding the homeless, or tutoring at a local school. as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., said “everyone has the power for greatness–not for fame, but greatness, because greatness is determined by service.” We can all serve and as HU graduates we are obligated to serve.

•  As graduates of this noble institution we are aware of the difference it has made in our lives. It is our solemn duty to give back by donating to our alma mater in order to ensure and sustain excellence and opportunity use your knowledge and your talents not only to fulfill personal goals and needs, but for a higher purpose that benefits others. we are our brother’s keeper.

And finally, follow your call.

Clearly we are equipped with the tools. it is up to us to use these tools to uplift our community; and propel ourselves to leadership and service in our respective fields of expertise. don’t look for all the answers neatly tucked away in one thing or another because you won’t find them.

• If you can’t win in a particular instance, don’t hesitate to compromise. If you think the cause is right, don’t hesitate to dig in your heels and fight. hold fast to idealism, but don’t miss the boat because of the rose-tinted frames. While pragmatism can be good, don’t hesitate to consider the novel or new approach in any given situation.

•  Oftentimes it is through our mistakes that we realize our most crucial life lessons, so be open and receptive to new and different ways of accomplishing goals and objectives. There are no specific roadmaps. . .but with a Howard University education and faith in god, by whatever name you call, peace dwells and success is assured. I bid you peace.